Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why DC gets dissed by the federal government a lot: Union Station edition

march and demonstration held by thousands to protest health care reform
A sign (top) portrays a ghoulish depiction of US President Barack Obama and reads 'The Doctor Will See You Now', during a march and demonstration held by thousands to protest health care reform proposed by the US President in Washington DC, USA, 12 September 2009. Organized by a conservative group called the Tea Party Patriots, the demonstration began at Freedom Plaza and ended at the US Capitol Hill. Photo: European Press Agency/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

The City Paper Housing Complex blog has a story, "Union Station Can’t Get It Together," about Union Station not receiving any US DOT monies for the improvement of the transit infrastructure there.

A couple years ago, the Associated Press did a great story about the National Mall in Washington, DC, "Neglected National Mall Languishes," about why Congress is not very interested in appropriating money for its improvement--because they would rather provide money for projects in their own districts. From the article:

An Associated Press analysis of congressional spending since 2005 found the mall has been at a disadvantage in competing for extra funds doled out by lawmakers, compared with sites that are represented by powerful members of Congress. The mall is in Washington, D.C., which has no vote in the House or Senate.

Last year, when dozens of ducks and ducklings died of avian botulism because the water in a mall pool near the Capitol was so fetid, and as urgent repairs were needed to stop the Jefferson Memorial’s sea wall from sinking into the mud, the Senate killed a $3.5 million earmark for the mall.

Instead, funding went to projects back home. All told, Congress sent home more than $181 million in earmarks through the park service budget last year — an election year — according to data compiled by the group Taxpayers for Common Sense and analyzed by the AP.

Given that the Obama Administration got whupped in the 2010 midterm elections, it doesn't make sense for the Administration to rub salt in the eyes of the anti-Washington folk and not earn any votes for the 2012 election in the process.

Appropriations are more likely to go where they can have electoral impact. DC doesn't have have voting representatives in the House and Senate, and even if we did, we'd still vote for the Democratic Party whether or not Union Station gets special federal appropriations this year...

-- Also see "Running Against Washington" from a 1976 issue of Time Magazine and this blog entry from 2006, "Running against Washington means you're predisposed not to help it."

It's not that Union Station "can't get it together," but instead, "Union Station can't catch a break."

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